10-10-10 by Suzy Welch: A Values-Driven System for Success

April 20, 2009 at 12:37 am 1 comment

When I started this blog in the summer of 2007, one of my main goals was to have a continuing conversation about success, and redefining it as something internal rather than external.  For me, success was about defining values, then consciously creating a life where those values play a central role.

I was (and still am) concerned that our  popular culture generally offers much more destructive versions of success — our mass media touting consumer goods, physical appearances, and “important” titles as the ways to define our achievements in this life.   Over and over in my life, I was seeing that conceiving of success as internal and values-driven led to more fulfillment and inner peace than any of the messages we continually receive about external measures of success and “having it all.”

As Gandhi famously said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”  In my own words, when we feel we have enough — in the deepest and simplest sense — we can claim success.  Which is not as easy as it sounds.

Suzy Welch’s new book, 10-10-10, is actually based on a very similar revelation and concept — that of creating a values-driven life, one decision at a time.  Perhaps that’s why MotherTalk gave me the privilege of reviewing Welch’s latest book here at Having Enough.  Welch’s premise is that by using a decision-making paradigm, 10-10-10, to guide us, we can “create a life of our own making” and live our life with meaning and peace of mind, rather than “letting our life live us.”

She came to the 10-10-10 idea when she was a working mother with young children, trying desperately to “have it all.”  As she explains in her skilled and candid story-telling, it wasn’t working for her.  She was stretched too thin, trying to hard, working too much, and still not fulfilling herself or the needs of her children.  Something had to give.

And then, one day in Hawaii after a botched business trip (on which she tried to take three kids as “quiet companions” — ha!), she came up with 10-10-10.  The concept is simple: for each decision you make, ask yourself, what are the consequences in 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years? But, just like Having Enough, an idea that seems simple is actually more complex and profound than at first glance.

I admit, when I first received 10-10-10, I wondered if the concept was better suited for one of her columns than an entire book.  How could she talk about this one decision-making procedure for 220 pages?  But, then, I started to read, and what began to unfold was that 10-10-10 is actually much more than a pithy idea, but a values-driven system for creating our own success.

Welch illustrates, through myriad stories from her own life and others’, that not only can this system apply to various situations (from work to relationships to parenting) but it also, if used consistently, can keep you in check with your own life mission statement.  In other words, if you apply the 10-10-10 principle (which really just means conjuring the short-, medium-, and long-term consequences of your actions) regularly in your life, you are basically forced to continually re-examine your deepest values and whether you are living by them.  10-10-10 seems to work in holding people accountable for their authenticity — which adds to happiness.

I haven’t had a major decsion to make in the week since I received and read 10-10-10, but I’m eager to try it.  Welch’s many examples — the string of examples from her own life and the turning-point stories of other people’s use of the principle — have convinced me it is worth using.

As a career coach, I often urged clients to reflect on their values, and I often asked them to imagine how “their 80-year-old self” would look back on a decision (in the case of my clients, it was usually whether to stay in a PhD program or change careers!) — and this worked well for some people who could imagine that way.  But I see how 10-10-10 gives a more specific and concrete method to examine values and decisions that even the skeptics can often get on board with.

It doesn’t take any certain value system to use — in fact, from her stories I gather that Welch and I actually have pretty different values on some fronts — and that is the beauty of her system.  It only asks you to consider your own values, and how they play into each and every choice we make. I like it.

In short, 10-10-10 is worth checking out for Having Enough fans, for anyone who likes a good storyteller and a good idea, and for anyone who wants to live more authentically, in tune with their deepest values.  Please let me know if you use it and how it works for you!


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Stop and Hear the Music Once In a Lifetime

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Blog Mission

To spark conversation about redefining success (as individuals, families and institutions) and to counter "never enough" messages currently circulating in our culture.

Blog Author

Megan Pincus Kajitani: Writer, Editor, Former Academic Overachiever and Career Counselor, Mom, Wife, Feminist, Gen Xer, Californian who believes that change is possible View Megan Pincus Kajitani's profile on LinkedIn

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